Illinois Men’s Basketball: Norfolk State Game Preview

The No. 1o Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Norfolk State Spartans as they look to stay undefeated on the season.

Many might remember Norfolk State for their big upset over (2) Misouri in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

Norfolk State is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference (MEAC) and finished second in the MEAC last year with a conference record of 13-3. The Spartans are 6-5 this season.

Norfolk State’s two leading scorers are junior guards Pendarvis Williams and Malcolm Hawkins. They are averaging 12.1 and 12.0 points per game respectively. Hawkins has scored double-digits points in eight games this season. In their win over UMBC, Williams scored 19 points and Hawkins scored 20 points.

The Spartans’ leading rebounder is freshman forward Rashid Gaston. Gaston is averaging 7.0 rebounds per game and has recorded double-digit rebounds in only one game this season. In the win over UMBC, Gaston racked up nine rebounds for the Spartans.

Another player that could be big for Norfolk State is senior forward Rob Johnson. He is averaging just 10.5 points per game. However, Johnson scored 17 points and recorded 11 rebounds in their last game against UMBC.

This will be the first meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Spartans. Although, this is not head coach John Groce’s first meeting against Norfolk State. Groce is 1-0 against them in his career.

Illinois has a 20-game non-conference home winning streak and they’ve won 32 consecutive regular season home games over non-conference opponents.

Brandon Paul is performing very well as of late for the Illini. He was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after scoring 35 points against #10 Gonzaga.He averaged 24.5 points in two games last week.

Paul has scored double-digit points in every game this season. He is averaging 19.5 points per game which leads the team and is second in the conference behind Deshaun Thomas. There is a good chance that Paul could have another nice game against the Spartans.

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Tags: Basketball Illinois Fighting Illini Malcolm Hawkins Norfolk State Spartans Pendarvis Williams

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